Legislators sound off on special session

For the 33rd time since statehood, Montana lawmakers could soon meet outside regular session to address the state’s budget crisis.

Revenues have fallen $227 million below the projections lawmakers used to craft the state’s 2017-19 budget. To compensate, Gov. Steve Bullock has proposed steep budget cuts to most state agencies, a prospect that’s alarmed Montanans active in the health-care, educational and environmental sectors, among others.

To resolve these concerns, the governor’s office is seeking a deal with state lawmakers. Press Secretary Marissa Perry told the Daily Inter Lake that Bullock’s office aims to secure about $75 million each in temporary tax increases, transfers from various state accounts into the general fund, and not-yet-specified budget cuts.

State law gives the governor authority to call a special session. Budget Director Dan Villa said he hopes one will take up this proposal before Thanksgiving, but the Legislature’s Republican leaders don’t share his forecast.